COMMENTARY | Lee E. Goodman, the current head of the Federal Election Commission, has a bone chilling warning that government bureaucrats are casting about for excuses to rein in the growing power of conservative media.
It seems that liberals within the federal bureaucracy want to treat conservative media outlets such as the Drudge Report, Sean Hannity, and presumably your humble servant much as they do PACs and not as entities that are protected by the First Amendment. That means we would be subjected to regulation if we comment on issues or suggest that one political candidate is better than another. These rules would apparently not apply to more mainstream, liberal outlets.
There is even more talk of reviving the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” which until the Reagan administration mandated that opposing sides be given equal time in any media outlet. This had the effect of suppressing political speech on the airwaves. It is no accident that its abolishment led to the rise of conservative talk radio like Rush Limbaugh in the late 1980s.
Goodman is actually suggesting that some people in the government are in favor of selective enforcement of campaign laws, which is to say based on the ideology of the person or entity being regulated. The motivation is clearly to suppress free and open political speech, particularly conservative speech.
It should come as no surprise that there are many in the government who have contempt for the First Amendment. The recent revelations that the IRS was used as a political weapon to harass groups based on their politics reveals a sickness within the government, a totalitarian temptation that drives some to what to shut people up for convenience sake.
After all, annoying people who like to call out politicians for their malfeasance have traditionally been suppressed. In America, at least according to the Constitution, dissent – all dissent – is a cherished part of what makes a republic run. People who think otherwise do not need to be in government service or anywhere near having the power to make things otherwise.